Just like you took the empty toy boxes and ripped-up wrapping paper to the curb, it’s likely that some relational housekeeping is in order. Family gatherings can often be a petrie dish for bitterness. Bitterness is a rapid-growing weed, and offenses new and old, perceived and real, big and small are the seeds. If you aren’t vigilant, the cheerful moments and memories will soon be overgrown with spiritual kudzu, like a ’67 pick-up truck in a Tennessee front yard.
Bitterness is a thug. It drags your opinion of the person you are holding a grudge against into your mental alley, and proceeds to internally pummel the living daylights out of them. The bruised and bloodied image of them that’s left, hides all that person’s traits which are praiseworthy, commendable, and for which you should be grateful.
There are certain people in our life who always manage to find a way to push our buttons, rubbing us the wrong way. If a certain person just came to mind, you need to get busy with the hard, but God-honoring, work of reconciliation. Have they truly offended you? Or are you simply refusing to be long-suffering towards them? Have you really been hurt, or was it just that your pride and selfishness were exposed? For every one of their faults, can you make a list of ten of their virtues for which you are (or should be) grateful?
But what of their offenses, faults, and annoying idiosyncrasies? If they’re a Christian, imagine what they’d be like without the sanctifying Spirit of Christ at work within them. If they aren’t a Christian, forgiveness, patience, long-suffering, and forbearance are going to be one of the primary ways which you will be demonstrating the Gospel which you should be sharing with them.